Worried about Valverde? You bet I am.
It’s never a good sign when the closer is limping around the mound while attempting to close out a game. Valverde logged the save Sunday but then hobbled into the clubhouse, hobbled toward his locker and did everything in his power not to put any pressure on that bum leg. Not good.
Then, when I asked him how he was feeling, he said, “I’m not ready yet. I don’t feel 100 percent, but I have to support my team.”
This is alarming, because Valverde is the type of pitcher who will play through anything and swear up and down, left and right that he’s totally fine, because the competitor in him is telling him he’s fine even if he’s not totally fine. For him to come right out and say, in essence, “I’m not fine” is worrisome. He must be in some kind of pain.
So we’ll see what happens this week in Cincinnati. The bullpen is beat up after throwing 10 innings in the last two days, so not having a fully healthy Valverde could be a big, big problem this week.
Russ Ortiz has to be more efficient if he’s going to be a part of this rotation. He threw 97 pitches on Sunday and got through only five innings. That’s not good enough, and he’s fully aware of that.
“There were times today where I made pitches early in the count and they swung and got out in three or four pitches,” he said after the win over the Brewers. “That was the whole goal — get some outs as soon as possible — obviously, not throwing pitches right down the middle of the plate — but making quality pitches early and that was the goal. These [Brewers] hitters, I think they know me, that I’m going to throw a lot of pitches and they’re laying off some pretty close pitches. I just keep plugging away and I’m not going to change anything. Certain hitters, I need to do a better job of getting ahead early.”
That said, Ortiz understood the importance of winning that final game with the Brewers. The homestand was already a disappointment, but a sweep by the Brewers would have been brutal.
“I think everybody in this clubhouse knew we had to win,” Ortiz said. “It was a must-win game today. Those are games I love to pitch in, because I’ve always felt like I want to be a go-to guy. I want to be a guy that can stop something or that can keep something going. I want these guys to know that when I’m going out, we have a really good shot at winning. Today, I knew it was an important game. That’s what Pudge and I talked about. We needed to win this game.”